I’M ON A BOAT!
Overview (Spoilers, it’s on a boat)
We interrupt your regularly scheduled Kino for a little bit of time with Shizu. He has happened upon a giant artificial island, which travels the ocean making trade. Since he is looking for passage to the western continent, this seems like the best way to get there. The rulers of the ship country wear black robes, completely covering themselves. They give him two options: He can spend the entire trip as part of the Tower Clan, overseeing workers and enforcing the law with deadly force while living in luxury, or he can stay with the commoners and work. Having been a part of the ruling class at one point, he chooses to live with the commoners. There, they aren’t able to find work for him, but they give him a guide to show him around. Her name is Tifana, or Ti for short. While wandering around, he is stunned by a sudden “earthquake” as the ship shudders heavily. He investigates, and with Ti’s help, he discovers that over a hundred portions of the ship are flooded or damaged beyond repair. If the deterioration of the ship gets any worse, it will sink and the citizens will die. The people are blissfully unaware of this predicament and are sure the Tower Clan have things under control. So, he takes his inquiry to the Tower Clan. They deny that the problem is out of their control, and send an enforcer out to get rid of him. After one shot from the enforcer’s rifle, they throw the rifle at Shizu, pulling out a pistol… wait. That’s a familiar move. It’s Kino! She takes off the robes, realizing that if Shizu was the dissenter, something is up. The two storm the tower, Shizu using the back of his katana and Kino using rubber bullets. When they reach the chambers of the Tower Clan, the black robes drop lifelessly. They’re empty! The Tower Guild were AI’s the whole time! The ship country makes berth at a beach, and the people come out to look around. However, they refuse to believe that their home is as damaged as he says, and leave him, Kino, and Ti on the beach. Shizu tells Ti that she needs to go back to her country, and she stabs him instead. She says she doesn’t have a country. Hermes pipes up as Shizu bleeds out. The motorcycle was able to talk to the Tower Clan, and they let him know their true nature. They were AI’s on a ship called the Tifana that had been abandoned and crashed into the ship country. The ship country at the time was populated with nobody but children. So, they became the rulers to guide the children. Though they tried to get their citizens to leave the doomed ship several times, they would not. So, things go to this point. Once, a pair of travelers gave birth to a child while staying with the Tower Clan. When they left, they abandoned their child. The Tower Clan raised her, naming her after their abandoned ship. However, as she was not an AI, nor a natural born citizen, she was rejected by everyone on the ship. Shizu apologizes for his unwitting blunder and offers to let Ti join him and Riku on their journey. Then he passes out from blood loss. He gets better.
This episode is taken from much further down the road in the books. It never appeared in the original anime, which I appreciate. The original series picked and chose its episodes from the novel series. By showing us different stories, it avoids getting compared to the other version. Its episodic nature makes it easy to do so. Really, I feel like this show may have been better if they had thought of it as a continuation, rather than a reboot. The only change would be to remove Colosseum (Episode 2 of this series) and replace it with another story. Done.
I’m left feeling like this episode was rather slapped together. When we are first introduced to the Tower Clan, we are left with the impression that they are a ruthless band of despots. They treat petitions from the populace as hostile demands and let complete strangers order the commoners around with lethal enforcement. Then, at the end, we are told that these were actually a group of benevolent AIs and they have been trying and failing to save the commoners. It almost seems non-sequitur. The actions we see seem almost opposite of the intent we are told. Without any given explanation for the behavior, my best guess would be that they are trying to make conditions so bad for the commoners that they have to leave. But, why not try to fix the ship? Seriously, there is a ton of scrap metal all over the place from pipes that are messed up and useless. You can salvage those and patch the holes while you work at repairing other damage. Further, the option of staying with the commoners or with the Tower is a pointless one. He could either boss people around or do work, but there is no work for him to do. Either way, he doesn’t actually do anything and is simply using up resources. The whole point of the choice ended up so that they could have an excuse for having Kino get a surprise twist reveal at the end, but they didn’t want to isolate Shizu by having him have a job, so the writers just shuffled that whole plot point away. It made no sense. In fact, the only thing that I liked out of the writing was Riku’s lines. That dog is funny.
The scenery in this episode was beautiful. The backgrounds were loaded with ruined ship parts that looked like an urban explorer’s seventh heaven. Just because he was “inside” the whole time didn’t mean they slacked off on giving us nice stuff to look at. The scene where Ti takes Shizu up on the rim was gorgeous. The sky was beautifully painted, and the view back over the ship was detailed. It reminded me of Midgar from Final Fantasy VII. The animation was crisp and was error-free, but the camera angles were only interesting when we had long shots of Shizu’s tour.
This anime is slow and peaceful. It’s intentionally that way. It’s more about enjoying the journey and pondering what you see. Unfortunately, this also means that there really isn’t anything that exciting going on until a fight breaks out. It also means that the voice actors aren’t given much of an opportunity to do anything but the characters’ baselines. I don’t blame the actors, ADR or Funimation for this. It’s just how it’s written, and the stories they are telling.
While this episode was absolutely beautiful, and it gave us some character development for Shizu and Riku, its writing suffered from a series of illogical choices. It's still enjoyable, once you let those go. I give this episode seven sunk ships out of ten.